Aggressive Inline is an extreme sports game and bears resemblance to the popular and long running Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. So the opinion that this is just a clone using blades instead of a board and is cashing in on the thriving extreme sports genre is a common, but very wrong view. This thought is especially more common since Acclaim’s previous game Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 received a disappointing response from gamers who did not find anything new, and were already comfortable with one extreme sports game. This time however, the developers have realised something new is needed and provided it to gamers.
Aggressive Inline adds a lot to the genre by taking the already working features from the aforementioned games and combining them with new innovative features; leading to a faster paced and more enjoyable game. With the method of transport being aggressive inline skates, whole new concepts can be unleashed to the extreme sports genre; giving gamers a new direction for their extreme nature.
The basic premise will be familiar to extreme sport gamers. The player roams around a level getting ‘phat air’ off of ramps pulling tricks and grinding rails to receive points, while having set objectives to complete. Although this time it is taken to the extreme.
So what sets this apart from the rest? For a start, the levels are huge and very imaginative even before you’ve unlocked the secret areas; you can skate around for ages exploring these. The levels do not pretend to be perfectly normal locations with the habitual environment coincidentally catered for skaters but instead use a theme and combine it with actual ramps, so that the player is not restricted just because it doesn’t look plausible. Various themes include a movie lot, museum and a cannery, all of which contain numerous props to use in your combos.
The traditional time system has been scrapped, so you can spend as long as you want on a level. You can now explore your surroundings at your leisure, that is, as long as you keep your special bar filled up by doing tricks (this is very easy to do). You will need all of this time to locate the 30-60 objectives on each level, ranging from performing a certain trick for a photographer, to using the level editor to alter a section of the current level. Inside these missions is only where the timer reveals itself.
The nine levels and the rest of the game, as a whole look very smooth and polished with the textures being very detailed and fit in with the levels theme.
The game does not suffer from any slowdowns roaming around, even when in the more hectic situations; with cars whizzing by or when viewing the whole level from up high. The visuals are nothing groundbreaking but are very pleasing to the eye with vibrant little effects which really add to the game; an air trail, a little puff of blood when you stack, impact energy rings when landing from great heights, flames coming from the skates when you’re doing well, and clothes moving with the wind. These additions all add to the visual quality and authenticity, while keeping with the games fun and quasi-realistic nature.
That said, in certain situations this ambience can be interrupted by glitches in the collision detection. At certain points of, it seems every level; the character can fall through walls and floors appearing to fall into a black hole. These glitches don’t crash the game but rather replace you somewhere close-by (sometimes in a locked area); it seems as though Acclaim knew of this problem and added a quick fix.
To add a little depth to the character an attributes system has been included. This is experience based, so the more you do something the better you will become at it e.g. if you grind a lot your character will balance better when grinding. So you could max out your skater’s stats on the included tutorial level if you really wanted to. Your character will be catered to your own preferred style.
The actual game play is fast paced and full of action. The aptly named ‘action button’ helps to provide this. It allows you bail out of a trick if you are going to stack; helping to keep the pace by letting you carry. The button also lets you flip or “vault” off objects such as a lamppost sending you high up into the air allowing for some flashy combos.
The multiplayer maintains the same speed with some interesting game modes. These include a blackjack game where you have to collect cards to get a total of 21 inside 2 minutes, stack, and you’ll have to start over again. Another is named “Animal Rescue” which really has to been seen to be believed. These games are very fun and will keep you entertain for ages as long as your mate doesn’t use the cheap ‘exploit’ to gain masses of points. The usual best trick and best score are also included in which you rack up thousands of points. The levels are cut down versions of the single player ones but still are pretty big and have loads of places to do tricks and grinds.
The ‘exploit’ mentioned is really just a feature poorly thought out. It involves the option of changing from one type of grind to another by pressing the Y button and gaining extra points. This action is not restricted and so you gain masses of points from simply tapping the button very fast. These oversights along with the numerous glitches really dampen what could have been a near perfect game.
To accompany you as you manoeuvre the character round is a rocking soundtrack full of punk, rock and some hip-hop. The songs chosen fit in with the common theme associated with the scene, with some being particularly catching and will get lodged firmly in your head. The number of these tracks is limited so they may get repetitive after a while. If you don’t like a song you can simply take it out of the play list or turn them off completely. Also around the level there are people who give you verbal objectives with different accents and personalities, sometimes quite funny, often over-the-top. There is one little girl who gives you a hard mission to complete, and with the difficulty it is probable you will have to listen to the same frustrating instruction again and again.
During normal play though the game sounds are great; grinding makes a different sound depending on what type of surface you are on; the scraping sound will soon become familiar.
The sheer number of objectives available will keep you occupied for a long time. Some are very tricky making you strain your brain trying to work them out. Also when you first play the already large levels, some areas are locked off with the only way to unlock them is to find a key located in a different level. This is clever as you will have to alternate between them; stopping each from getting stale as you work your way through the game. There are some bonus characters which can be unlocked when you complete the game but do not offer anything new.
If you’re an extreme sports fan you’ll love this game and should consider buying it even if you have a game from the genre. If you’re new to extreme sports games then this should be your first choice over the others, as it’s great for beginners and pros alike with challenges varying in difficulty. It has a pick up and play attitude but also can be played for long stints. The game has one real downside; it takes up a whole standard memory card (59), so you’ll need to fork out for a new one just for the game. This is a small price to pay for a worth experience.